Granite State Showdown

By Jason Collins

A Recap of the 2024 New Hampshire Primary

The first primary election of 2024 has come and gone. The results of the Republican primary should not be a surprise by now. What would be more surprising would be to see a Republican candidate beat the dominating Donald Trump. But that didn’t happen. Here’s what did.  

Republican Dropouts Recap 

With only days since the Iowa caucus, a lot has changed in the candidate lineup for the presidential race, with more candidates dropping out of the race. So far, we’ve said goodbye to Viveck Ramaswamy and Chris Christie shortly after the results of the caucus were released. 

Then, on January 21, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who at the time was running in second place to Trump, announced that he too was dropping out of the presidential race. He announced on X, saying,

If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome, more campaign stops, more interviews, I would do it. But I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources. We don’t have a clear path to victory. Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign.

DeSantis’s parting is not surprising, considering the lead that Trump beat him by 30 points in Iowa and Nikki Haley right on his tail, inching closer every week. The Florida Governor had no path to victory. No path to winning even a single state for that matter. DeSantis immediately endorsed Donald Trump joining a growing list of Republican luminaries lining up behind the former President. With DeSantis bowing out, all that is left from a crowded field is two GOP candidates: Trump and Haley. Nikki finally got her one-on-one race.  

On hearing the news of DeSantis dropping out, Haley said,

I want to say to Ron he ran a great race. He’s been a good governor, and we wish him well. Having said that, it’s now one fella and one lady left.

From 14 candidates to 2, what do all these dropouts mean for Haley? Not one to be intimated, Haley is determined to go head-to-head with Trump, and the New Hampshire primary results give us a glance at what this showdown looks like. 

A Closer Look at the Primary Results 

The biggest takeaway from the Granite State primary is that Trump won easily with Haley in second place, largely propped up by non-Republicans. With only two candidates left in this race, second place looks like Haley’s default position unless something drastic happens. 

The current results show that Trump won 54.5% of the vote, with Haley behind him at 43.2%. To break it down even further: 

  • Trump won 11 delegates and 163,700 votes 
  • Haley won 8 delegates and 129,646 votes 

So far, this puts Trump ahead of Haley with 32 delegates in total, while Haley has 17 delegates. To win the title of GOP nominee, the candidate needs to have at least 1,215 out of 2,429, and according to some clever thinking by CNN, the soonest a candidate is predicted to reach these numbers is in March. During his 2016 campaign, Trump reached this threshold in May, but he wasn’t on track to win all the primaries back then. Looking at his competition and past performance, he is on track to reach those numbers far earlier than May this year. 

This means Haley has a tough uphill, impossible without some sort of Deus ex machina, battle to conquer to even make Trump break out in a light sweat. What doesn’t help her case is that she’s missing the Nevada caucus on February 8, which would have been a chance to win more delegates. All those will go to Trump. Haley hopes the South Carolina primary on February 24, in her home state, will be her big win. Hope is the operative word here as she currently trails the former President by over 20 points in polling and virtually every prominent South Carolina politician is endorsing Trump. Senator Tim Scott, whom Nikki Haley appointed to the Senate when she was Governor, stood behind Trump on stage during the former President’s victory speech following the New Hampshire primary.  

Trump vs Haley is just getting started 

Unlike other candidates, Haley is not ready to drop out and has proven that she is now more than ready to fight Trump for that GOP nominee, and Trump is ready for her.  

During an election watch party in New Hampshire, Haley told supporters,

This race is far from over. There are dozens of states left to go, and the next one is my sweet state of South Carolina. I’m a fighter, and I’m scrappy, and now we’re the last ones standing next to Donald Trump.

Haley also finished her speech with a final jab at Trump, saying, “When we get to South Carolina, Trump is going to have a harder time falsely attacking me.”  

After his victory in New Hampshire, Trump took a moment to respond to Haley’s remarks about him during his victory speech. He told the crowd of supporters,

Who the hell was the impostor that went up on the stage that went before and claimed victory? She did very poorly, actually.

Unlike his magnanimous speech following the Iowa caucus, Trump was visibly angry Tuesday night. He wants Haley out of the race and the tone of the campaign will likely get ugly in the next several weeks leading up to South Carolina. 

Is Trump worried at all about Haley’s refusal to drop out of the campaign? Worried is a stretch but Trump wants to focus on the general election and most importantly secure full backing from the Republican National Committee. The majority of Republicans agree and Haley will face intense pressure to drop out in the coming weeks. Trump cryptically told his supporters,”She is not going to win, but if she did, she would be under investigation… I could tell you five reasons why already, not big reasons, little stuff that she doesn’t want to talk about.” What this means, if anything, is anyone’s guess. 

Going Forward

At this current rate, 2024 is set to be an interesting year for the two candidates, with delegates up for grabs in the states of Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Colorado, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia in the coming six weeks. The only question remains: how long will Haley drag this out? Trump will almost certainly win them all, and how is Haley planning on derailing what looks to be a concrete, decisive win for Trump? Over 75% of registered Republicans voted for Trump. He won every demographic. Haley relied on support in New Hampshire by getting Democrat and Independent votes. She remains despised by the MAGA base and staying in the race could potentially damage her future political career within the Republican Party. People who have taken on Trump in the past such as Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger have been exiled. There is no place in the current Republican Party for an anti-Trump resistance. If Haley pushes on, she might end up looking like Chris Christie in the future, unable to get over 5% of Republicans to support her. 

Trump has begun hitting Haley where it will hurt the most, among the donor class. Without money behind her, there is no way Haley can sustain a campaign that loses vote after vote. Trump, in a recent social media post, said that going forward any donor that supports Haley will be banned from MAGA. It’s unlikely Trump will follow through on this and refuse future money from high-dollar donors but there is no doubt the pressure is being put on them. Billionaire Reid Hoffman has already stopped funding Haley and it’s almost certain others will follow. 

Kenny Rogers, in his famous song The Gambler, has a chorus that Haley might want to reflect upon; You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away. And know when to run.   

The time has come for Nikki Haley to walk away.